Okay, so far in our discussion of assertiveness, we have discussed basic assertive rights as well as the passive end of the assertiveness continuum. Today, we are going to discuss the other end -- aggressiveness.
Many think of aggressiveness as being a physical thing, e.g., hitting, etc. While this is sometimes true, aggressiveness can best be described as the infringement on others basic assertive rights. Here are some characteristics of aggressive individuals:
- low tolerance for frustration
- use of intimidating body language
- talk in a loud or demanding voice
- blame others or point out the fault in others
- be poor listeners, i.e., interrupt, jump to conclusions, etc.
- talk over others
Aggressive communicators often come across as being very angry. One thing I learned working in the prison with VERY angry individuals is that anger is usually a mask for fear. It may be a fear of being victimized, taken advantage of or being powerless. Whatever the case, given the choice between the emotions of fear or anger, many pick anger because it makes them feel less vulnerable at the moment. So, what are some of the implications of acting with aggressive tendencies:
- people come to fear them
- others try to avoid them
- they use their aggressiveness to avoid others
- they have an external locus of control, e.g., they blame the world for their woes rather than recognizing and accepting responsibility for their actions
My experience has been that aggressive communicators are often very sad and lonely people. It's as if they recognize that they do not have the quality relationships with others, which just to be clear, they do want. Despite this, however, their fear of being vulnerable and leaves them feeling that they have not other option but to act in a manner that they feel allows them to regain control. Using the analogy of a toolbox, aggressive communicators lack to the tools to engage with others in a way where they are still in control, but are also respecting the rights of others. In other words, they have not learned how to be assertive. More on that next time...
Do you know someone who is an aggressive communicator? Do you see any of these tendencies in yourself or perhaps your spouse or child? Post your comments!